Marriage break-ups, extra-marital affairs, heavy drinking, drug fueled sessions, oh, and the creation of some masterful pop tunes. It sounds like a script for a bad soap opera, but the reality is it was part and parcel of the making of what was to become one of the biggest selling albums ever!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you 'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac!
One thing is quite clear, if you know anything about music you have probably heard the tales of the making of this album, or seen the tv show 'Classic Albums: The making of Rumours'. So there's not an awful lot to add to that, but I will mention a little about the 35th Anniversary release that has just come out in a number of different formats, focusing on the Super Deluxe Edition.
Disc Four of this set - Roughs/Early Demos/Outtakes - has already been released as part of the 2004 remaster and so it's a bit of a puzzle why it's ended up back in this new reissue, but then again maybe it was just to bring everything together under one roof so to speak.
Disc Two presents a live package from the tour to promote the new work featuring eight of the songs from the album. It's pretty good and demostrates that despite the dysfunction that was going on within the band they did manage to maintain a united front on stage.
Disc Three though is the disc that matters a little more because on it there some of the seeds to what would become standout tracks on the 'Rumours' album. An acoustic version of 'The Chain' with Steve Nicks sounding excellent - a full song in it's own right but as time moved on only the chorus was retained. Next to that is Christine McVie's 'Keep Me There' which again ended up as forming part of 'The Chain'. Hearing the song all these years later you can see why the song in it's fulness failed to make the album, it's just a wee bit too heavy musically though the second part is just amazing to listen to and you can't think of it fitting elsewhere other than the 2nd part of 'The Chain' with John McVie's pulsating bass line leading the charge. An early take of 'Oh Daddy' has Christine McVie leading the band as she shouts out instructions throughout, and for me it is one of the standout tracks, as is the early take of 'Silver Springs' with Stevie Nicks in fine voice.
Rumours by the Numbers
2nd #1 album for Fleetwood Mac following 1975's self-titled album.
31 non-consecutive weeks at #1 in the USA.
10 Million copies sold by March1978.
13 Million copies sold worldwide by 1980.
20 Million copies worldwide by 1987.
25 Million sold worldwide by 1997.
30 Million sold worldwide by 2004.
40 Million sold worldwide by 2009.
11x Platinum in the UK.
19x Platinum in the USA by 2012.
13x Platinum in Australia.
5 x Gold in Germany by 2006.
6th Best Selling Album Ever in the USA.
Those numbers are pretty impressive when you consider what Mick Fleetwood said recently regarding the making of the album, "It was a chronicle of a moment in time for five people who were totally miserable in the romantic realm and yet incredibly happy and productive musically." (Uncut 190, March 2013)
It's actually a wonder that any music came out of these five lives with all the emotional turmoil going but listening back to it all these years on it still has a sense of sparkle about it.
It's actually quite funny sitting down writing about 'Rumours' all these years later. When it was released Punk was on the verge of breaking out big style and bands like Fleetwood Mac were considered past their sell-by-date and their music fit only for the fire. I have to say I never thought that way. Even though I was a punk rocker in them days I could never disown the music that I had grown up with, it was special and to cast it aside forever would be to wipe out far too many childhood memories. Maybe it was put up on the shelf for a few years whilst discovering new music but it was always within reach should the urge come to listen to quality musicianship and beautifully crafted pop songs.
Thirty Six years on it still sounds like an amazing album. Some of course will hate it and others will totally love it...it's a bit like marmite really!